Savannah’s Story

Savannah was Dr. Maddux’s furry canine companion, and she was the mascot and inspiration behind Savannah’s Crossing Veterinary Hospital. She was a three-legged mixed breed dog whose heart was filled with pure joy and love for her family and children of all ages. She was not always named Savannah and she did not always have three legs…her story is one a lot of pet owners and parents can connect with as she was meant to become Dr. Maddux’s first dog and the love of his life.

It was July 4th weekend of 2005 and I was a senior student at the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine rotating through the orthopedic department. A local good Samaritan brought in an 8-week old puppy that had been hit by a car on the busy four lane highway in front of the veterinary college. She had no collar, no microchip, and no owners. The emergency services personnel admitted the puppy and instantly named her “Cutie Pie” thanks to her adorable large brown eyes lined perfectly with a black rim of what I called her eye liner.

“Cutie Pie” showed the most tender heart and the sweetest disposition to anyone who cared for her. She never protested any treatment and only cried when her right rear leg was handled. X-rays showed she had a broken leg through the growth plate, so she was placed under my care within the orthopedic department. Surgery was scheduled as soon as possible. I was assisting the senior clinician and the surgery resident in attempting to repair the fracture. Puppies are amazing at healing, but “Cutie Pie’s” fracture had a massive amount of scar tissue, so the fracture could not be repaired in a way that would heal and be usable. I had to make a decision: either fusion of the knee and a resulting peg leg or amputation of the leg just below the hip.

My concern was that a peg leg would always be a source of pain and discomfort so after consulting with the senior clinician and resident, I decided due to her young age and amount of scar tissue we would amputate and trust that she would adjust quickly to a new way of life…I also decided at that moment that “Cutie Pie” would become mine. In the course of taking care of her, I had begun to fall in love with her sweet and intelligent demeanor, her gentle licks, and those adorable brown eyes. I had never named a puppy before, so I reached to song lyrics, favorite movie characters, and all my friends for name suggestions. Nothing seemed quite right until someone suggested “Savannah” and I instantly knew that was her new name and I was her new family and home.

Two days after surgery Savannah went home with me for the very first time. I had to help her up the steps leading to the front door for the first two days but from then on Savannah never needed any further assistance. Along with an array of other skills and mobility adjustments Savannah even learned to jump into my arms so I could boost her into the back of my truck. She became a favorite at the vet school and would cause jovial fights among the veterinary technicians regarding who would get to care for her while I was working with other animals on other rotations. Her popularity continued wherever she went, and she was often approached by strangers and children who saw her wide smile, bright eyes and wanted to know her story.

Over the years, Savannah and I traveled together to farm calls during my large animal veterinary days; moved together to five different states; survived hurricanes together and even gained additional four-legged friends. Savannah’s adventures ceased to slow her down and all those around her often forgot she was an amputee.

Savannah crossed the rainbow bridge in June of 2021. But she showed such a love for life and unwillingness to let anything hinder her fast-paced walks, runs through the woods, dreams of rabbit chases and love of her stuffed “babies” that she inspired me to develop a practice where personalized care and education can give an owner the same joy I have experienced over her lifetime. Savannah may have lost her leg, but her quality of life was saved. This has given me a passion for orthopedic surgeries in particular, but has always served as a reminder to do what is best for the pet in the long run.